Designer gives tips for an organised home office

Mari-Jane Williams

THE WASHINGTON POST – Washington DC interior designer Regan Billingsley still spends some time in her studio, but for much of the past year, she has been doing a fair amount of work from home.

Overwhelmed by the bags of tile and flooring samples, fabrics and other work-related items, she recently decided to turn a seldom-used guest room into a home office.

“It wasn’t the plan to have a home office” before the pandemic, she said. “I include things in my home office that I wouldn’t in my studio, because it’s more personal and I want it to feel like home.”

Many of her clients have also been looking for ways to decorate and streamline their new work-from-home spaces, she said. And what they want most is flexibility.

“People are unsure where we’re going to be working next year, or in two years,” she said. “We know what we need right now, but not two years down the line. So where we might have done built-ins before, now we’re doing more free-standing furniture in case it goes back to being a guest bedroom.”

ABOVE & BELOW: Coordinating Branas baskets can be added to IKEA’s Kallax unit to conceal clutter; and a budget-friendly organising option is Deny Designs’ Bree Madden Simple Sea Acrylic Box from Target. PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST

Here are her suggestions for stylish pieces that will help you get organised, whether you’re starting from scratch or improving an existing home office space.

Billingsley likes the clean lines and simple look of the Kallax shelf units from Ikea. They are versatile and affordable, she said in an email, adding that “you can fill the walls with them, and they won’t scream out at you, allowing you to bring attention to the nicer things in your office, like perhaps your desk.” Kallax units are available in various sizes and multiple shades of brown, grey and white. Billingsley suggests adding the coordinating Branas baskets to conceal clutter and bring texture into the space.

The Linear office armoire from Room and Board is pricier but worth the investment, Billingsley said, because of its multiple finish, hardware and configuration options. “You feel like you have a custom-designed piece of furniture without the custom price tag,” she said. The armoires are built in a small woodworking shop in Wisconsin. Billingsley gives bonus points for the built-in openings in the back to control cords.

Desktop accessories are key to having an organised space, but they’re also a good way to add a personal touch, Billingsley said. She likes resin swirl boxes from Mecox, available in two sizes and colours, pink or green. The natural bomba brush cup from Kazi Goods adds texture and interest while corraling pens and pencils.

Billingsley also loves Marie Kondo’s new Ori rattan collection from the Container and Deny Designs’s Bree Madden Simple Sea Acrylic Boxes for more budget-friendly options. “We like mixing high and low, using inexpensive acrylic storage for things like Post-it notes and paper clips, balanced with more decorative boxes and fun pencil cups,” she said.

“Baskets are pretty much everything for us in the office,” Billingsley said. “We use them for everything from hiding extra cords, organising things to put away later, stashing snacks and even for trash/recycling.” She suggests the classic market basket, which is handmade in Madagascar from raffia and aravola, and includes leather handles.

Although the Jax touch smart lamp is not a storage piece in the traditional sense, Billingsley likes it for its USB charging capabilities, which helps keep all your devices close at hand. The lamp has two power outlets and two USB outlets. Pair it with adhesive mini-cable clips to corral stray cords.

The Story bookcase, which comes in two sizes and six colours, is the perfect small-space solution to display your favourite books without overwhelming the room, Billingsley said. “These are our go-to shelves for every room in the house for chic, compact book storage.”